Without a scale to weigh your fish, you’re just guessing. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned about angling over the years, it’s that “educated guesses” tend to grow with each telling.
Yes, I’ve known a few people who could assess a bass to within a few ounces just by eye, but they’ve been rarer than 10-pounders. For the rest of us--and for any organization that certifies records--an accurate scale is a must.
What should you look for in a fishing scale? Should you go for digital or analog? A hook or a gripper? Are the expensive options worth it? Will the cheap scales perform?
We’d like to help you answer these questions, so keep reading!
In this article, we’ll take a close look at some of the best options available, discuss their strengths and weaknesses, and offer our recommendation for a top pick.
Quick look at the best fish scales on the market today:
Table of Contents (clickable)
The Accu-Cull scale is something of a sleeper hit, popular on the water but still not generally well-known--and certainly not as popular as the inferior Berkley (which didn’t make our list!). A quick look at this little bargain will dispel any concerns, however, and we think you’ll be as taken with it as we are.
The Accu-Cull features a bright, easy-to-read, backlit screen. It shuts down automatically after 50 seconds, but no worries--until you clear it (using the reset button after powering down), the last weight stays put! Anglers have found it plenty accurate, and it weighs up to a maximum of 55 pounds, in either one ounce or 100th of a pound increments. And like the KastKing, expect a retractable 38-inch tape measure, just in case.
It’s not designed for tournaments, so don’t expect any fancy memory features.
But it comes with a Mini-Grip, one of our favorite grippers to use in conjunction with a digital scale. The Mini-Grip is strong, secure, and rugged--everything you want in a gripper. For the price, that’s a bargain in itself, helping to explain why this combination deserves a second look from all but the most tournament-dedicated anglers.
Indeed, where this product shines is in real-world use. We’ve already talked about the screen and scale, and now it’s time for durability. From the included Mini Grip to the unit itself, expect bomb-proof performance. We wish Rapala made a product as durable and water-resistant, as many anglers have put this scale to the test in the rain, wet, and humidity.
Powered by two AAA batteries, expect reasonable battery life.
Eastaboga’s analog scale, known as the “Boga” among angling cognoscenti, is the Cadillac of analog scales. Its top-end price tag is matched by its performance, and in many respects, it’s the measure against which all other scales should be judged.
Available in two weights--15- or 30-pounds--the Boga is easy to use. The attached grippers lock into place with vice-like efficiency and an audible click, and an internal spring hidden by the metal exterior measures weight in one-pound increments. That’s not ideal for 100th of a pound tournaments, but rest assured, these scales can be certified by the Internal Game Fishing Association. Indeed, they’re renowned for top-notch half-pound increment accuracy.
The Boga also features a rotating grip, protecting the mouths of large fish as they struggle during weighing. That may not seem like an essential feature, but when you’ve got a 20-pound fish trying to break free, it’s the difference between catch and release or death.
Built to withstand years of use in saltwater, the Boga looks and feels like the high-dollar item it is. Seriously. When you pick this scale up, you’ll be impressed.
Its durability is legendary, and you can expect it to outlast you!
Yes, there are many imitators, including the well-reviewed Entsport. But buyer beware! Not only do these knock-offs not feature the rotating grip, resulting in lots of injured fish, but they also don’t weigh accurately at all.
If you’re looking for an analog fish scale, this is the one to buy.
KastKing’s digital scale has a lot going for it, and for the price, it’s a solid choice.
While most digital scales make some claim to water resistance, in this case, it’s more than marketing hype. Users report that they’ve dunked this scale with no problems, and more than a few have endured rain, splashes, and high humidity. For an inexpensive product, that’s simply awesome.
The KastKing offers a simple hook to snag your fish, and we strongly recommend adding a gripper to this scale. That’ll make it easier on your catch--and on you! It comes equipped with a retractable 38-inch tape measure, but it’s not built to last. At least in our experience, it’s more of a nod to gimmickry than real function.
But the heart of this scale is “all go and no show,” and it has a clear, backlit, simple read-out and three buttons to activate its various features. As you’d expect, one of them is a memory function that can store up to nine weights. It can also be zeroed so that an attached gripper doesn’t add a few ounces to your catch. That’s a nice touch, and something to consider.
Incredibly, this scale provides one ounce or 1/10th-pound increment measures up to its maximum of 110 pounds, and users have found that it’s accurate to within a few ounces across a range of weights. For tournament anglers, the lack of a 100ths feature can be a problem, though.
Finally, it’s powered by two AAA batteries and provides reasonable battery life.
Rapala knows that not every angler fishes tournaments, and they’ve got you in mind, too. Their high-contrast digital scale is a nice alternative to their tournament model, offering great function for a reasonable price.
“High-contrast” refers to this scale’s LCD screen, which features light images against a dark background. It’s incredibly easy to read, and just as easy to use. And if you want to use it to record your catch for trophies, it photographs nicely, too.
Like its tournament-minded sibling, it stores up to eight weights and lets you know how your batteries are faring. It uses a directional pad control, something we’re all familiar with at this point. With a 50 pound maximum, it’s got you covered for bass with room to spare, and weighs in one-ounce increments as well as 100ths with incredible accuracy.
The included gripper works well, too.
Two AAA batteries provide power to this unit, and they last pretty well.
Count us impressed!
But like the other Rapala digital scale--and somewhat surprisingly--water is not this product’s strong suit. A quick dip will probably kill it--and will definitely shorten its service life. Rain and splashes should probably be avoided, as well.
Is that a deal-breaker? We don’t think so, but it’s a weakness worth considering.
Rapala has been catering to the needs of serious anglers for generations, and it’s no surprise that they produce excellent fishing scales. Their touch-screen tournament scale is among the best digital options, and from a top-notch gripper to the full functions you need in a competition, you’ll appreciate what it has to offer.
Built with bass tournaments in mind, it’s large backlit screen presents eight stored weights plus a running total. That’s critical information when the heat is on, and a feature we’re sure you’ll appreciate. And with a 15-pound maximum (it’s also available in a 30-pound model), measuring one-ounce increments as well as 100ths of a pound, you’re covered for even the largest bass.
This scale’s accuracy is first-rate, as you’d expect, and you won’t find the official’s scales weighing your totals in for less!
That large touch screen is a snap to use, and with added extras like a battery life indicator, you can count on its reliability when you’ve got bigger things to worry about
The attached gripper is very strong; you won’t need to worry about losing fish, although a few people have complained that it’s perhaps too stiff.
This scale runs on two AA batteries, providing as much as 400 hours of running time!
That’s the good--and it’s easy to see why we’re impressed. But not everything is great. Water-resistance is poor, and if you want this relatively expensive unit to last, you need to keep it dry. Some users have even had problems with high-humidity causing the screen to fog from the inside!
Should that scare you off? We don’t think so, but it’s something to consider carefully.
Right off the top, it’s worth asking the obvious question: digital or analog?
Many scales come standard with a large hook that’s intended for the lip or gill of your fish. Others use a lip-gripper, essentially a spring-loaded clamp that can hold a fish by the lip without harming it.
Gripper models tend to be more expensive than hooks for reasons that we don’t need to explain. Overall, we think selecting a model with a gripper is a good idea. At the very least, we suggest adding a gripper to the hook on models that don’t already offer one.
First, hooking a struggling fish through the lip or gill is likely to injure it. If you practice catch-and-release fishing, enough said.
But second, those large hooks can be a pain to work with when you’re juggling a struggling fish, and for some species, hooking them in the mouth with a short hook is a terrible idea--think shark, pike, and anything else with a maw full of teeth.
It’s easy enough to buy a gripper, slip it over the scale’s hook, and--if necessary--affix a short length of plastic tubing to hold it in place.
Here’s one example that A. Jay, a frequent poster at Bassresource.com rigged-up:
“Will Wetline,” using the same scale, has a different approach:
Both these gentlemen are on the right track. Do yourself a favor, and add a gripper to the hook if you choose that style of scale.
Our favorite? The Accu-Cull Mini Grip! It’s easy to use, really durable, and clamps down a lip with authority.
Long battery life is important for digital scales, and you certainly don’t want them failing unexpectedly! With some digital scales, even low batteries can affect accuracy, so it’s a good idea to keep spares on hand and to make sure to change them often.
We’re only reviewing digital scales that take standard AA or AAA batteries. There are some products that use watch batteries, but these can get expensive and be hard to find if you’re not carrying spares.
An inaccurate scale is worthless.
A good scale should deliver repeatable precision, fish after fish and season after season. But be aware that many digital scales suffer accuracy issues when weighing fish below 3 pounds or so, and if you’re tournament fishing, you want to be sure you have a scale that can handle these little guys with no problems.
A fishing scale should be able to absorb the bumps and bruises of outdoor life. From a hard knock on a gunwale to a drop on the dock, these little accidents shouldn’t kill it.
A sudden storm or the occasional splash should be tolerable, too, but obviously, mechanical scales have the advantage here. In fact, our research reveals that even the best digital scales should be kept high and dry if at all possible.
We’ll carefully discuss this issue in each review.
Finally, cost is something to consider.
A really top-notch analog scale is going to be expensive, but it should last the rest of your life!
By contrast, a very inexpensive luggage scale probably can’t take much of a beating, but they’re cheap enough to buy en masseor replace as needed.
Our top choice in a digital scale is the amazing Accu-Cull.
With fancy electronic competition from Rapala, you’d expect the Accu-Cull to fall short. But what it lacks in high-tech wizardry it makes up for in real-world performance. Plenty accurate, and with measurement increments in ounces or 100ths of a pound, the Accu-Cull’s got you covered for basic weigh-ins. And while not designed for tournament use, and so not equipped with fancy memory options, it’s remarkably durable and all-season-long rugged. Easy to use, easy to read, and equipped with the excellent Mini-Grip for no extra cost, this is pretty much a no-brainer unless you’re a hard-core tournament angler.
But for an analog scale, there’s really only one serious game in town: the Boga.
With a price-tag that may cause second thoughts until it arrives, a few seconds in your hand will reveal incredible quality and high-end manufacturing techniques that justify the money you’ve just spent. Remarkably accurate and incredibly durable, the Boga offers a winning combination of ease-of-use and top-notch performance.